Booking a vacation rental can be a frustrating time, and since I’ve been in ‘guest’ mode this week looking for last minute availability for an August vacation as well as a winter Bahamas break, I’ve experienced it first-hand. As well as this, as an owner of a busy rental agency, we are hearing exasperated voices regularly as potential guests voice their irritation at not getting what they want, when they want and at the price they want, so I’m seeing both sides of the coin at the moment and wondering how to make a truly successful vacation rental.
Our got-to-have-it-now society is changing the game. Customers have higher demands, greater expectations and less patience. They want accuracy in rates and availability, a quick response to enquiries and their needs addressed with an attentive level of customer service. And…with a lot of choice available, they will bail very fast if those needs are not met.
So, what do you do?
It’s simple really. Follow the 3-step mantra that successful vacation rental owners use:
Reply quickly to any communication. Use telephone if you can because that’s a great reassurance to your guests. I was back and forth with an owner of a Bahamas vacation home this week, and when she called me to clarify a few things, it was a seal-the-deal moment. If I had been unsure of my choice, her simple act of picking up the phone confirmed we had made the right decision.
Guests don’t want to be kept waiting for answers to questions and will quickly move onto another option if they don’t get a speedy response. If you snooze, you lose!
Try to be one step ahead of your guests’ requirements. When I booked my 2014 Exuma vacation yesterday, I had all sorts of questions about car rental, flight schedules and housekeeping arrangements. Before I asked, I was sent a comprehensive document that included all the answers. Now that was proactive service.
Be Customer Focused
We all have busy lives and don’t want to spend time on unnecessary paperwork so make sure your booking process is streamlined. With so many booking engines available, as well as the easy availability of electronic agreements requiring simple digital signatures, there is no need to have your guests faxing or mailing in agreements. Making the process easier will become more important as competition grows.
I wasn’t able to find a Florida location unfortunately, due to inaccurate calendars, a general lack of response and some pretty poor customer service from agencies, so we’ve decided not to go now. I am sure there are owners out there who could have benefited from the business. Perhaps a few of them will read this and up their game. It’s time to get real in this business.